Because Not All Superheroes Wear Capes; Some Wear Bindi
Born between two siblings, her activities were neither seen with the respect as seen for her older brother nor the kind of love and attention that her younger sister got. She got less of both the worlds and missed most parts. Unfazed by such things, she grew up acting as a bridge between the siblings. She would protect the younger one from the elder’s wrath and would calm the older sibling in case of a fight between the two.
Like every other teenage girl, she too fell in love in her college days. Like every other family, hers too didn’t accept and got her married at quite an early age. Was she sad and disappointed? Yes. Did she let the world know? No. Not for a moment did she let her infectious smile wane from her face.
The boy she married turned out to be a good companion for life. She liked being with him. Yet something was amiss. Because first loves are not forgotten easily. Letting go off the ideas of the dream proposal and the perfect wedding, she got started with building her own little cozy nest with love along with her life partner. When they started out, they were misfits but with time smoothening their edges, they grew into a perfect match. Soon, a little birdie arrived in the nest. They had the cutest baby in the world. The nest never remained the same place thereafter. Though they still had silly fights occasionally, the baby’s cooing and laughter drowned it.
When the baby wrapped her fingers around her finger after a long tiring day of work, which was all she needed. Earlier in the day when the visiting motivational speaker in the office had asked everybody about their superpower, she was clueless. But not anymore.
At night when she looked at the mirror, she didn’t complain about her recently gained weight. She knew she had the curve that mattered the most as she smiled looking at her own reflection in the mirror.
The Boy – The Man
The website was taking too long to load. A pair of anxious eyes searched the screen oblivious of the bead of sweat now bulging into a drop ready to trickle down his temple at any moment. And all this happened in an air-conditioned room. The results were going to be out that day. He had seen enough results in his short lifetime, even disappointing ones but this was different. This was something he wasn’t forced to do or did it just to go with the flow. Rather he took it up of his own wish and had given his everything in the last couple of years. The anger at people having doubts about his ability spurred him for a short while but the self-doubts crept in soon. It was the love of the loved ones that sustained the fire in the belly.
It was the day the UPSC result was going to be released. The page reloads and he sees the congratulatory message. He had waited for this moment for so long. Contrary to all the aggressive celebration that he had initially thought of doing the day he started, he went down on his knees, eyes brimming with tears, just needing a push to roll down. And his father’s hug was that push. Embraces from sister and mother soon followed. When he washed off his face and checked it in the mirror, he saw something different in those eyes. A man had replaced the boy. Or that’s what he thought. What he didn’t realize was that the dreamy boy was still within him. The boy created the man to protect the boy’s dreams from the evils of the world.
“Who is that pretty girl?”
His friend quipped when he was scrolling through his timeline casually. He ignored him and went on scrolling.
He was friends with the girl for quite some time, but in between a busy and unsatisfying work schedule and messy relationships, he never quite noticed her.
That night when her photo came up again on his timeline, he didn’t just like it and swipe to look for more stories; he stopped.
He didn’t just stop there. Something made him check her profile and the next thing he knew he had reached the end of the playlist he was listening to followed by a low battery warning on his cellphone. It was well past midnight and he was now two years down her timeline; watching her silly dub smash videos, reading her amateur poetry. He went on ignoring the low battery alert and the phone died soon. His eyes ached too and he fell asleep.
The next morning he woke up with his mind reset. He was looking forward to yet another monotonous day of work, but the day came with a twist. When he was walking with his friends during lunch break, he saw her coming from the opposite direction. He remembered about his last night’s stalking session. The day wasn’t monotonous anymore. When he was back at his desk, he checked her profile again looking for that quote she had shared from a book she recently read. The next moment he had ordered that book.
His playlist was now full with songs that she liked. That night, after dinner, he pinged her, “Hey! How are you?”
He saw her for the first time when he was distracted by the sound of heels on the stair case. His eyes veered from the desktop screen towards the source of the noise and found her. Her lanky legs trotting down the stairs during the lunch break, the spectacles sitting on her petite nose. Since that day he would wait for the sound of her heels which was now music to his ears. But there was a problem. He didn’t know her name. He was shy enough to look at her face. (Even if he wasn’t it would have been creepy.) He wanted to search for her on Facebook to take a look at her face as long as he liked. (Who isn’t a stalker these days?) But he had no luck. He had no clues to start with. He didn’t know anyone she hung out with. Days passed and then there was this tennis ball cricket league in his unit where girls too participated. He checked the list of names and was oblivious of the fact that her name existed on the list too. The match day arrived and as he approached the field with his teammates, he saw her. She was in the opposite team and the jersey she wore had her name written on the back. The quest was finally over. He knew her name now. These days, whenever he comes across her name in any emails, he has a queer feeling. His rough notebook’s last page is scribbled with her names.
They shared the same cubicle. His nostrils soaked in the perfume she wore that day. He felt the urge to look at her face but he couldn’t. He could only see a glimpse of her radiant skin and the bright dress she wore from the corner of his eye and could listen to the rhythmic clicks of the mouse while she worked. Sometimes she would unclip her hair and tie it back again. He felt the urge to look at her face, look right in her eyes. There were moments when their eyes did meet, but he would avert his gaze as soon as they meet just like a batsman who is afraid of short pitched stuff takes his eyes off the ball. It was awkward. He would hate himself for that. He didn’t even have a complete picture of her in his mind. All he had was bits and pieces; a mole behind her right ear, the long silver earrings, the colorful long Kurtis. She was definitely a Punjabi lass and that added more to her charm. At night when he dreamed of her, he would hold onto these fragments of her like a drowning man would grope at anything that could float. He wasn’t sure if it was infatuation or another pang of OCD. Whatever it was it was like having butterflies in the stomach; giving him jitters.
He steps out of his black sedan amid the cheer of thousands of people. Loved by the good, feared by the bad, he wasn’t any movie celebrity but a bureaucrat, a bureaucrat in the eyes of the government, a messiah for the downtrodden and impoverished. His daredevilry had become a part of folklore in this part of country. Back when he was posted in the small town it was plagued with rampant corruption and criminal activities. Today when he is transferred to another place, he has left behind a promising place. Unlike his predecessors he didn’t splurge on the money meant for the people, he had modest earnings but he had left his mark on people’s hearts, reveling in the love and affection they showered on him. His mission had been accomplished.
He inquires about the people greeting them with that effervescent smile and folded hands one last time before getting in his car. The car leaves behind a trail of dust; few people still chase the car as he coyly waves them off. Sitting in the car’s rear, he held his wife’s hand and saw pride in her eyes as he rode off to begin another chapter in his life, another mission awaiting him; leaving behind tales of his heroics in this land.
Confession of an Infoscion
Never had a change of color had so much significance in his life; not even in his Chemistry lab finals when he waited for the color of the solution to change under the examiner’s keen eyes. He was just another boy with a red tag in a sea of myriad colored tags covering the entire spectrum of dispersed light. Roughly a year back, the red tag around his neck was replaced by a black tag, the same tag which he used to envy, sometimes fear and other times respect when he saw others wearing it in the food courts. Exactly a year back he debuted in a place for which he was bestowed with the black tag. The new place bore just enough resemblance with the place that he came from to rekindle those old memories but not enough to satiate his soul. It has been more than a year now, yet the place seems just ‘a couple of songs in a dark room’ away. A part of him never really left the place; his broken soul now drifts to meet the ghost that still roams there. When he looks at his black tag these days, it doesn’t evoke the same emotions as it had once.
They both grew up in the same neighborhood, but had never talked to each other. Fate brought them together in a new place. Little did they realize when they became friends from being just acquaintances ending up being in love with each other. But their joys didn’t last long. He got posted to the same place where both of them lived as strangers unaware of each other’s existence in the past. She got posted to the place where they fell in love with each other. She stays back while he returns to find a different city waiting for him; aspects of the city which he hadn’t noticed earlier like her favorite Gupchup joint across the street. How he wished he knew her back when they lived in the same city! They missed each other dearly but no matter how far they were from each other, they still shared the same Moon in the night sky.
She sat in the balcony swinging in the swing made out of cane, her heart aching with pain. This was her place, her place to reflect on her life, her troubles, and her little joys. The artificiality of the air from the air conditioner inside gave her headache. So every evening, she would come out here; enjoying her solitude, watching at the street across the balcony. Right then, breaking her chain of thoughts, a gust of wind blew across her face blowing her long hairs, revealing her pretty but sad face; extinguishing the flame of pain stinging her heart and bringing a relief on her face. It was well past dusk, but hope dawned in her life…
Every morning, he would rush on his bike crisscrossing vehicles on the road to reach office on time. There he would join others who would already be glued to the phone on speaker listening to his voice. The voice originated from the approaching darkness on the other side of the planet. The voice had no face yet they followed his every word. It was the voice of their on site manager whom they had never met.